Leading Bilingual or Multilingual Teams

Balancing communication needs, identity beliefs and legal obligations

Cultural Training for Leadership

Balancing communication needs, identity beliefs and legal obligations

Leading bilingual or multilingual teams presents challenges that extend beyond the need to be understood through spoken and written interactions. Managing linguistic diversity within an organization is often a delicate leadership challenge.

It is more than just a matter of imposing a common language to ensure the synergy of work teams. However, adherence to a “universal” business language is often part of an organization’s policies. No matter how standard this policy may be, it involves communication issues and may not inspire unanimous support throughout the organization.

The choice and unanimous buy-in of a universal business language are even more complex in international organizations or even in the national companies of countries with 2 or more official languages – such as Canada, which has 2 languages; Switzerland, 4 or South Africa, which has 11 official languages!

Another critical notion of linguistic diversity is that language is deeply embedded in a person’s identity. As such, it has an emotional component that can, for example, surface in the form of resentment towards policies and even colleagues. Therefore, leaders must consider this aspect to avoid conflicts between members of the same team, different teams, departments, and regions, or even within the entire organization. 

Legal issues are another significant challenge in bilingual or multilingual workplaces and businesses. For example, certain countries may, through laws, impose specific actions and behaviours in using languages at work and in a business context. Often, these laws apply to the organization’s internal processes and external communications, such as its activities and marketing materials.

It invites leaders to reflect on the different issues and possible leadership strategies to better manage linguistic differences and improve the performance of their bilingual and multilingual teams.

Designed by experts in communications, cultural intelligence and emotional intelligence, this learning program helps leaders better manage language diversity challenges within the organization. In addition to key concepts, it provides tools and a framework for developing strategies and solutions to help leaders improve the performance of their bilingual and multilingual teams.


  • Raise leaders’ awareness of bilingual and multilingual teams’ challenges
  • Understand the emotions behind language issues
  • Acquire tools to better manage cultural and linguistic differences
  • Encourage open discussions on sensitive topics and identify possible solutions as a team
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Target audience

  • Senior executives and their management teams
  • Middle managers and their management teams


  • Concepts and principles of language diversity
  • Exploring cultural values and cultural intelligence
  • Exploring concepts of emotional intelligence
  • Application exercises using concepts learned to address organizational issues

ACCULTURA can customize this learning session to reflect the specific language issues of the client organization.

Languages: French, English

Delivery: online, in-person

ACCULTURA provides cultural training, translation, copywriting, cultural consulting, and educational support to help organizations navigate and leverage diversity, equity and inclusion.